Twitter may seem ubiquitous, but a young German software developer has created a free, open-source social network alternative called Mastadon.
The claim by 24-year-old developer Eugen Rochko, in Germany, is not only that the platform is different from, but better than Twitter. At least for now, social media users seem to agree. Unlike commercial platforms, Mastodon’s decentralised approach means there is little risk of “a single company monopolising your communication,” according to Mastodon. The user simply picks their server of choice and can then interact with anyone, regardless of which server is being used.
Mastodon has been so popular that it recently had to temporarily halt user sign-ups after social media users flooded the site with new sign-ups. The following message appeared on the Mastadon website:
“Due to exceptionally high traffic, registrations on this instance are closed until quality of serve can be assured for existing users.”
A post via Mastodon is called a “toot” verses Twitter’s “tweet”. If you re-post or share a “toot” it is called a “boost”. Also, the format for Mastadon is each message can be as long as 500 characters, giving users more room to say something worthwhile and “allowing for more nuanced conversations,” according to Rochko. Also timelines are chronological.
The primary aim of the platform is to give users flexible privacy control. Each post, or toot, can be set as either private or public (as on other social media platforms) and there are no ads.
According to the developer:
“Mastodon isn’t built for selling your eyeballs or analytics to advertisers.”
Ethical design means a focus on user, not revenue, as the founder also notes:
“Allowing anyone to inspect its code and submit improvements means that it’s built for people, by people, under the scrutiny of people.”
Without VC backing, Rochko uses Patreon to collect donations, which are used to cover his “living expenses” and to host the site. Last month he reached his goal of $800.
Click on one of the instances, at the following link to sign up: Mastadon